- FAPUASA demands strengthening provincial HECs in light of CCI decision
ISLAMABAD: With the devolution of higher education in the wake of the passage of the 18th Amendment, Punjab and Sindh governments have established their respective provincial higher education commissions (PHECs) through Acts of provincial assemblies. However, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan have yet to set up their respective PHECs.
Sources said that the reconstituted Council of Common Interest (CCI) in its first meeting scheduled on Monday will focus on the pending matters and a six-point agenda.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will preside over the first meeting and the chief ministers of four provinces will also attend the meeting.
They said that Balochistan Assembly has already passed a joint resolution for the establishment of a provincial HEC and KP government has already prepared a draft of autonomous higher education body.
The sources said that important decisions regarding the future of the provincial HEC could be taken; hence the huddle is of paramount importance.
The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association FAPUASA Central President Dr Mahboob Hussain and Secretary General Arif Khan demanded strengthening of PHECs in the light of unanimous decision during 35th meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI) held on February 26, 2018.
They stated that with the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, education including higher education was shifted to the legislative and executive jurisdiction of the provinces.
Over the recommendations of the multi-party 10-members Implementation Commission constituted under Article 270, the CCI during its meeting held on 28th April, 2011 decided that to “a limited extent, the body would continue to work as Commission for Standards in Institutions of Higher Education in the light of Entry No 12 of Part-II of Federal Legislative List: Standards in Institutions of Higher Education and Research, Scientific and Technical Institutions”.
The superior courts through various verdicts have recognised the legitimate role of these autonomous provincial higher education bodies.
The CCI in its meeting held on March 18, 2015 set up a committee to look into the matters pertaining to higher education in post 18th Amendment scenario. After 3 years of deliberations, the recommendations of the sub-committee were submitted in 35th meeting of CCI held on February 26, 2018 under the chairmanship of the prime minister.
Endorsing the recommendations of the sub-committee, the CCI decided unanimously that federal government would deal with seven functions in higher education sector mainly setting up minimum national standards and defining national policy in higher education while provinces would play main role in higher education sector by performing 12 key functions, including policy formulation, regulation of higher education, issuance of guidelines and NOC for establishment of new universities and implementation of a quality assurance system.
It was also decided that the seven functions would be performed both by the provincial and federal governments. They further stated that among all 192 recognised universities, only 19 per cent of universities are federally charted universities while provincial governments control the majority of the universities i.e. 81pc (155 out of 192).
The federal government cannot effectively handle matters of 155 provincially charted universities.
They would resist any un-constitutional step undermining the role of provincial governments and provincial HECs in higher education sector. They demanded immediate implementation of unanimous decision of 35th meeting of CCI and confining the role of federal government in higher education sector as per the Constitution of Pakistan.